Cyclist deserved none of the blame for fatal crash in Fulton County

Tuesday, July 2, 2013
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Cyclist deserved none of the blame for fatal crash in Fulton County

It is not open season on bicyclists if they are within the traffic lane, to the left of the white line, contrary to the Fulton County sheriff’s comments [Gazette, June 27].

New York State traffic law affords cyclists the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. It specifies that the bicycle is to be driven near the right-hand edge or curb except when preparing for a left turn or when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions that make it unsafe to do so, including surface conditions. There is no mention of the white line in any part of this section.

This was not an unavoidable accident, despite the sheriff’s comments. The road where the incident happened is a state highway, the DOT [Department of Transportation] minimum traffic lane is 12 feet wide. The driver was in a Chevrolet pickup truck. The very largest Silverado has a maximum width of 96 inches, according to Chevrolet. That leaves a minimum of four feet between the right side of the vehicle and the white line without the driver’s vehicle crossing the center line — more if the lane is larger than the minimum or the truck is smaller than the maximum. The sheriff needs to explain how, if due caution was exercised as required by New York state traffic law Article 25 section 1122-a or Article 26 section 1146, the result of this incident is a dead person.

The sheriff also assigns blame to the cyclist. He cites that the cyclist wore no reflective gear. The accident occurred at 9:28 a.m., approximately four hours after sunrise, on a partly cloudy summer day. There was enough light for the cyclist to be seen by an attentive driver.

Similarly, the sheriff cited lack of a helmet. I ride my bicycle about 7,000 miles a year, and I wear a helmet because in many circumstances it is beneficial, but I have no illusion that it is going to save my life if I am squared up by a vehicle.

The article stated that this occurred on a steep hill, and from my experience that means the cyclist was moving about 10 miles an hour. If you accept that the driver was not speeding, the driver’s truck accelerated the cyclist about 40 miles an hour almost instantly. In this case the helmet would make no difference, in deference to anybody who knew the cyclist, I will not cover the details here, readers may look it up if they are curious about what happens inside a person’s body during a collision such as this.

The article does not mention if the sheriff checked the driver’s cellphone for activity just before the incident.

This is a good time for me to say a long overdue “thank you” to the Niskayuna Police Department for their identification and successful prosecution of the hit-and-run driver who left me unconscious in the ditch next to Route 146 some time ago.

They did not simply accept uncritically the driver’s account of the incident. The work they did was excellent and it gave me insight into how much time and effort is required and how difficult it is to follow through on an incident. It is good to know that there is one skilled and professional law enforcement agency in the area.

Tom Ambros


Why the overreaction to Paula Deen’s admission?

I grew up in South Carolina in the 1940s and ’50s. My father, a Boston native who resettled there during WWII, was a man ahead of his time with regard to discrimination and racism. He did not allow the use of the “N” word by our family. In my experience, virtually everyone else in our town, our state, the entire South for that matter, regularly referred to blacks as n——s, including [the] blacks. Our home was exceptional, if not exclusive, in that regard.

Now, some 50 years have passed and a white woman raised in Georgia [Paula Deen] admits that in the past she has used that term. She, along with tens of millions of other Southerners.

I am not trying to make excuses for society’s poor judgements. I am saying that the reaction to Ms. Deen’s admissions is both excessive and a bit self-congratulatory. We have found the culprit and dealt her a severe blow. That is hogwash.

Blacks are not the only group in history which have suffered. However, it seems that they are now the only ones for whom the vocal majority seems to care. That is hypocritical for both blacks and others to embrace this exclusivity.

White Americans are trying to erase the shame of slavery from memory. But we should not be held hostage to society’s past failures. There is not a person alive today who, tracing their ancestry back far enough, would not find a least one slave in their genealogy. Greek, Roman, Egyptian, etc. Progress has been made. All we owe other people at this point is to see that progress continues to be made and that it is applied in all cases of hate and discrimination.

If Ms. Deen has practiced discrimination other than the use of the “N” word, then she should be taken to task for those shortcomings. But for admitting that she was a product of her upbringing, get over it!

Frank Elfland


Downtown Sch’dy doing just fine with events

In regard to Allen Tanner’s June 28 letter in the Gazette, I would like to suggest that it is Mr. Tanner who is “asleep” and not Schenectady.

In stating, “Downtown needs to have an event going on each and every week,” he ignores the three weekly events already taking place in the heart of downtown Schenectady.

I invite Mr. Tanner to leave Glenville and visit the weekly farmers’ market and/or Jazz on Jay each Thursday and the fabulous Greenmarket (with “special local tastings”) each Sunday.

There are also other special events scheduled throughout the summer in downtown Schenectady and publicized in the Gazette and other media.

Wake up, Mr. Tanner, and join the thousands who are already enjoying these events.

Fred Heitkamp


Congress was foolish to reject food aid reform

While scandal and politically polarizing topics dominate news cycles, Congress tends to other issues that garner little attention but clearly indicate government ineptitude.

Take, for example, the recent rejection of food aid reform, just voted in the House of Representatives as an amendment to the farm bill. The proposed bipartisan reform called for more food aid to be purchased from local farmers in hunger zones. That is cheaper and faster than our current outdated system established in 1954, which mandates that the vast majority of food aid be grown in the United States and shipped on U.S.-flagged vessels.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office called this current system “an inherently inefficient use of food aid which adversely affects local markets in countries struggling to develop their own economies.”

Modernizing U.S. aid policy would deliver food aid 14 weeks faster and feed 2 million to 4 million more people while saving money on shipping costs. From a policy standpoint, reform makes sense and most representatives agree with it in principle, especially when considering it would help aid-recipient nations move to self-sufficiency — the primary objective of effective foreign assistance — by helping them establish their agricultural sectors.

Due to the vested interests of agribusiness and the maritime industry, however, Congress mostly sided with the more costly, inefficient program when it came to a vote.

Anthony Swingruber


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July 2, 2013
12:42 a.m.
Fritzdawg says...

Frank Elfland:
Even people like Snoop Dog have DEFIED ANYONE to find even a single person that was offended by what she said.

As per Jesse Jackson:
"The civil rights leader said Miss Deen shouldn’t be the “sacrificial lamb” in the racial discrimination battle".

July 2, 2013
6:11 a.m.
muggy says...

Gillibrand started out as a gun-owning, NRA-supporting, blue dog Democrat. It didn't take long for the transformation.

July 2, 2013
7:11 a.m.
wmarincic says...

Frank Elfland, When it comes to racism I look to the Jewish people, they were slaves for thousands of years and are the targets of many races of people who want to destroy them to this day. The Jews don't complain about their past and the horrors that their people have endured to this day. The Jewish people become as successful as they can, I had this conversation with a Jew the other day, he said to me, "Bill, theses people fight over and kill each other about who can walk on the sidewalks, we work and we buy the sidewalk", he also said, "we know what has happened in the past, we know the holocaust, we know the hatred aimed toward us, but we don't let the past define us".

July 2, 2013
8:11 a.m.
gina99 says...

Downtown is doing great with special events especially Art's Night-right Fred? Not even a parade other than the Christmas parade on Black Friday or the Holiday Parade at some random time.

July 2, 2013
8:28 a.m.
justapto says...

Fred explains why Schenectady is 'doing great' because he says so. I will stick to the chowder fest and many other events Saratoga has going on.
Schenectady can't compete because they are in denial.

July 2, 2013
9:46 a.m.
ChuckD says...

Thank you Tom Ambros. A man died out there, no less a man than the one that killed him.

July 2, 2013
3:56 p.m.
gina99 says...

Schenectady County is doing very poorly. County taxes 4X Saratoga County and 3X Albany County. Before the new County Home goes on budget. The only events "doing great" are run by volunteers like the Green Market with the usual phony political suspects uninvolved. Except to try to hog credit afterwards.

July 2, 2013
4:10 p.m.
cidbil says...

The Zollites have spoken....nothing good ever happens in Schenectady. EVER!!!!...just ask the Zollites for they are all-knowing....

July 2, 2013
6:15 p.m.
justapto says...

cidbil; the way I read it:
One opinion was presented that Schenectady can and should do more
Another opinion was made that Schenectady is just fine and how dare any one question that.
My opinion:
My taxes are sky high
Very few people frequent down town compared with other cities
We can do better to promote the city to include more frequent and diverse events downtown.
You are in denial!

July 3, 2013
7:14 a.m.
cidbil says...

justapto: A typical Zollite response if I've ever read one. Of course the "my taxes are too high" argument rears it's ugly head in a discussion of things that are happening in the City.I've got news for you, I've never heard anyone say their taxes weren't too high.......but again I expect nothing less from a Zollite, whose mantra is "nothing good ever happens in Schenectady. EVER!!!!" Thanks for proving my point.

July 3, 2013
7:09 p.m.
robbump says...

If, as Sheriff Lorey of Fulton County seems to believe ("Cyclist deserved none of the blame for fatal crash in Fulton County" letter by Tom Ambros), that motorists like John Damphier need not worry about being too close to other roadway users they pass ... then will Lorey similary refuse to charge the next driver who strikes an officer of the law who leaves his car to walk to the driver-side window of the car he has stopped?
Regardless of speed, helmets, reflectors, motorists are charged with the duty of "due care" when passing cyclists, pedestrians, and even other vehicles.
Hmmm... the term "equal protections" comes to mind

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